During a conference call with reporters today, Idaho GOP Rep. Raul Labrador was asked about minimum wage protests across the country among fast food workers. “I’m against raising the minimum wage,” Labrador said. He said minimum-wage jobs allow entry-level workers to “acquire the skills that are necessary, so they can move up … the job ladders. If you make it more difficult for people to hire them at minimum wage, it’s impossible for them … to gain the experience that they need so they can make more money in the future.”
He added, “I lived with this in my own life. … My mom worked at McDonalds at one point in her life. She decided she wanted to make more money, so she got into the management program at McDonalds. That’s how you move up the chain. … Every time she had a job she would start at the bottom, and she would work her way up into management. She was still not making a ton of money, but that’s how people get ahead in life.”
He predicted “an explosion of unemployment if we start raising the minimum wage.” Idaho has the highest percentage of minimum-wage workers in the nation, at 7.7 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The national rate is 4.7 percent.
The state’s minimum wage matches the federal rate at $7.25 per hour; its minimum for tipped employees is $3.35 per hour. An initiative currently is circulating to raise Idaho’s minimum wage to $9.80 in phases over the next four years; last week, initiative backer Anne Nesse said about a tenth of the required signatures have been gathered to place the measure on the ballot, with about four months to go.